Thursday, May 1, 2014

Prosperity Consciousness in the Caribbean: A Deeper Look

I recently read a Blog Article titled “Prosperity Consciousness in the Caribbean” (October 2, 2011 –  In my understanding, Fintor, suggests that the people of the Caribbean do not possess the proper mindset to gain or sustain prosperity.  He further states that if the Caribbean people who migrate take their old mindset with them, then they do not actually benefit from leaving at all.  Lastly, Fintor assumes that it is no longer necessary for the Caribbean people to leave their islands for first world countries as they have everything they require to be self-sufficient in their own countries.  In my opinion, Fintor is missing something extremely important to his brief analysis, and that is knowledge of the Caribbean and its people.  In the following, I will outline some of the historical and economic reasons behind the continuous exodus of the Caribbean people to the first world.

Under colonial rule, the Caribbean Islands were the economic engine of Britain. In Mansfield Park, Jane Austen writes of the comings and goings of English gentry who benefited from their sugar and cotton plantations in the Caribbean.  In the 1950s, however, these crops were no longer profitable.  Their repetitive cultivation had exhausted the soil.  Europeans could now produce sugar from beet more cheaply, and new scientific discoveries enabled the mass production of synthetic materials for clothing.  The absentee landowners abandoned their estates, thus, the islands’ economies collapsed.

High levels of unemployment and lack of higher educational institutions drove Caribbean people to immigrate to first world countries when offered the opportunity.   During and after World War II, Britain recruited her sovereigns from the Caribbean to replenish its work force.  In addition, the United States and Canada recruited Caribbeans as guest workers to pick apples and work as domestics.  Hundreds of thousands of Caribbean people readily left their homeland in search of highly valued higher education, professional training, and economic opportunities. 

Some left with the intention of returning.  Realistically, however, these islands were not economically advanced enough to absorb the return of so many highly trained professionals, especially with tourism as the main industry.  In addition, the governments of these islands have a long history of nepotism and corruption.  Funds loaned to their governments for the development of infrastructure are often diverted to their illegal offshore bank accounts.  The remnants of colonial elitism continue to be a systemic problem, which detracts from any sustained economic development. 

It is important to note that the United States feared the spread of Communism in the Caribbean when Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba.  This never materialized, however, and China has become the New Colonialists.  China is using its money to manipulate some of the leaders of these islands.  Instead of aiding the development of these countries, they are flooding them with shoddy products. 

In this global economy, these islands cannot compete with developing countries.  These Caribbean islands are sold to the highest bidder at the expense of its people.  Any foreign investor who wants to build hotels and golf courses are granted “Knighthood.”  In the documentary, “The Cove”), for example, it was reported that the UN representatives of Japan secured favorable votes from some of the Caribbean islands’ members by building useless projects in their countries. 

Off-shore gaming funded by foreign investors is the new economy of some Caribbean islands.
  Obviously, this is a hidden tax on the locals.  Further undermining the economies of the region, these foreign investors repatriate their profits.  In addition, many of these islands have become hiding places and breeding grounds for international criminals. South American “Drug Lords” use these islands as their gateway to the rest of the world.

Although the leaders of some smaller islands have tried to create a common economic market, it has not worked out as successfully as expected.  Regrettably, the single-mindedness and fierce independence of the Caribbean people has further contributed to their on-going struggles.  The geographical closeness of the Caribbean islands does not appear to foster strong markets nor guarantee economic cooperation. 

It is not a lack of “prosperity mindset” which hinders the progress of the Caribbean people, but poor government decisions and corruption.  In my opinion, Caribbean governments should invest in their own people instead of granting tax incentives and special privileges to nationals of developed and emerging countries.  May I suggest that Fintor research the history of the Caribbean and its people before passing judgment or expressing a superficial opinion not grounded in knowledge.

© 2014 Mouth Wired Shut